o/t: the return of Todd Mason’s Overlooked A/V!

After a longish hiatus, Todd’s back with his incredibly useful roundup of web articles/reviews concerning various movies (and other a/v items) that all too often get overlooked. Go to Todd’s Sweet Freedom blog by clicking HERE for the individual links.

  • A. J. Wright: Aldridge Gardens
  • Alice Chang: Nioh (videogame)
  • The Big Broadcast, 2 April 2017
  • Bill Crider: Where the Boys Are (1960 film)
  • Brian Lindenmuth; Bonanza: “Five Sundowns”
  • Bryan Senn: 7 Overlooked Werewolf Films
  • B.V. Lawson: Media Murder
    Classic Movie Salon
  • Colin McGulgan: The Gambler from Natchez
  • Comedy Film Nerds: Riley Silverman; Paul Gilmartin (of Dinner and a Movie)
  • Cult TV: Whodunnit?; Doctor Who: “The Gunfighters” (BBC 1966)
  • Cynthia Fuchs: Tickled; Tickling Giants
  • Dan Stumpf: Wild Women
  • David Cramner: Hell or High Water
  • David Vineyard: The Ship of Monsters (La nave de los monstrous)
  • Elgin Bleecker: Return to Warbow
  • Elizabeth Foxwell: Guilty Bystander; Fourteen Hours
  • Eric Hillis: Tower of London
  • The Faculty of Horror: The Night of the Hunter; The Innocents
  • Francis M. Nevins: Perry Mason: “The Case of the Restless Redhead”
  • Freddie Moore: 2010: Moby Dick
  • Gary Deane: Assigned to Danger
  • George Kelley: The Importance of Being Earnest (1952 film)
  • “Gilligan Newton-John”: Spasmo; In the Devil’s Garden
  • How Did This Get Made?: Sleepwalkers
  • Iba Dawson: I Am Not Your Negro
  • Ivan G. Shreve Jr.: Big Town After Dark; French Quarter; Sky Liner
  • Jack Seabrook: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: “Murder Case”
  • Jackie Kashian: Tyler Hinman on Locked Room Escape games
  • Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show
  • Jacqueline T. Lynch: The Best Things in Life Are Free
  • Jake Hinkson: Hardcore (1979 film)
  • James Reasoner: Barely Lethal
  • Janet Varney/The JV Club: Alice Lowe
  • J. D . Lafrance: Ruby in Paradise
  • Jedidiah Ayres: Coronado
  • Jerry House: Africa Speaks!; TEDx: “STEM and the Arts”
  • Jim Laczkowski: Underrated 1987 films
  • John Grant: The Catman of Paris; River Patrol; Suspense (1913 film)
  • John Scoleri: Dark Shadows Before I Die: the episodes reviewed
  • John Varley: Mascots; Loving
  • Jonathan Lewis: The She Beast
  • Juri Nummelin: Teuvo Tulio
  • Karen Hannsberry: Female; The Big Sleep (1946 film); Pushover
  • Kate Laity: Will Eisner Centennial
  • Ken Levine: The Business of Network Television; Amy Schumer: The Leather Special
  • Kim Newman: A Dark Song
  • Kliph Nesteroff: Danny Thomas Presents The Wonderful World of Burlesque
  • Kristina Dijan: “The Winemaker”; Gold Diggers of 1933; Film Discoveries of 2016
  • Laura G: The Accused (1949 film); Turner Classic Movies in April; 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival
  • Lindsay D.: The Exiles (1961 film)
  • Maltin on Movies: Quincy Jones
  • Martin Edwards: Left Coast Crime: Honolulu Havoc; Torment (1950 film)
  • Marty McKee: Heavy Metal; Count Yorga, Vampire
  • Mildred Perkins: Train to Busan
  • Mitchell Hadley: Los Angeles TV: 7 April 1998; TV Guide, 45th anniversary issue (4 April 1998)
  • Movie Sign with the Mads: Gymkata; Singin’ in the Rain; Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Noel Vera: Rice Soldiers
  • Patricia Nolan-Hall: Avanti!; Tales of Manhattan; Shane
  • Patti Nase Abbott: Sleeper
  • The Projection Booth: Kissed
  • Raquel Stecher: Alive and Kicking; 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival
  • Rick: The Accidental Tourist; Raymond Burr
  • Rod Lott: The Ambushers; Camp Massacre; Up Your Ladder
  • “Rupert Pupkin”: Out of the Past; The Hudsucker Proxy; One Way Passage
  • Ruth Kerr: The China Syndrome
  • Salome Wilde: The Night Caller; “Key Lime Pie”
  • Sergio Angelini: The House That Dripped Blood
  • Stacia Kissick Jones: Demon Seed; The Yakuza; The Last Best Year
  • Stacie Ponder: The Exorcist Director’s Cut
  • Stephen Bowie: Mary Tyler Moore’s best episodes: The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Stephen Gallagher: British Library: Victorian Entertainments: There Will Be Fun
  • Steve Lewis: The Falcon in Hollywood
  • Television Obscurities: Willy
  • Theresa Brown: Tomorrow is Another Day
  • Todd Mason: Robert Bloch adaptations: Molle Mystery Theater: “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper”; Thriller: “The Cheaters”; “The Devil’s Ticket”; Torture Garden
  • Tynan: Chimes at Midnight; Tarzan the Ape Man (1932 film)
  • Vienna: Man on a Tightrope; Doris Day

Verdacht, Der (2008)

When a girl dies, a small town’s suspicion turns to the outsider among them!

vt Suspect
Germany / 26 minutes / color / IFS (Internationale Filmschule Köln), SWR/arte, Mitteln der Filmstiftung NRW Dir & Scr: Felix Hassenfratz Pr: Mathias Casanova Cine: Yoshi Heimrath Cast: Anne Weinknecht, Heinrich Schmieder, Daniela Holtz, Eva-Maria Kurz, Leon Hofmann, Peter Höfermeyer.

An award-winning exploration of the way that suspicion, however great or little a basis it might have in fact, can poison both a community and even the minds of those closest to the person suspected.

Conny (Anne Weinknecht).

In a small town somewhere in southern Germany, Conny (Weinknecht), the baker’s wife, is a stalwart of the church choir. Her husband Udo (Schmieder) is regarded by the locals as something of an outsider, because he was born elsewhere. Conny’s mother (Kurz) especially resents Udo because the outsider inherited the family bakery through marrying Conny.

Conny’s mother (Eva-Maria Kurz) makes it plain she has never liked Udo, the interloper.

Three months or so ago there was a murder locally: a young woman from out of town was shot dead. The police investigation went nowhere. Now the cops have had a tipoff: Udo was seen giving the young woman a lift the night before the discovery of her body. Udo is brought in for questioning, but Continue reading

o/t: leisure reading during March 2017

As always, the links are to my Goodreads notes. The Pronzini sort of snuck up on me, and is probably my highlight of the month, hotly pursued by the French and the Brundage.

Catman of Paris, The (1946)

Was he a vicious killer or just a harmless shapeshifter?

US / 64 minutes / bw / Republic Dir: Lesley Selander Assoc Pr: Marek M. Libkov Scr: Sherman L. Lowe Cine: Reggie Lanning Cast: Carl Esmond, Lenore Aubert, Adele Mara, Douglass Dumbrille, Gerald Mohr, Fritz Feld, Francis Pierlot, Georges Renavent, Francis McDonald, Maurice Cass, Alphonse Martell, Paul Marion, John Dehner, Anthony Caruso, Carl Neubert, Elaine Lange, Tanis Chandler, George Davis.

In the closing years of the 19th century, bestselling author Charles Regnier (Esmond) is back in Paris after having spent a couple of years traveling in the Orient. His latest novel, Fraudulent Justice, is selling like hotcakes—in fact, his publisher, Paul Audet (Pierlot), declares that “Not since Balzac, not since Victor Hugo himself, has an author gained such popularity!” (What, no mention of Dumas?) All very atypical for publishers, who’re these days more likely to spend upwards of an hour telling you that the market’s tough, really tough, which is why you’ve yet again accrued no royalties . . . and then asking you to go dutch on the lunch they invited you to.

Charles’s patron and best friend Henri (Douglass Dumbrille).

But then Audet does indeed segue into what we might call Publisher Chagrin Mode. Although Fraudulent Justice is a huge bestseller, the book may destroy him. The cops are very suspicious of it, and may confiscate all copies, because it bears far too close a resemblance to the facts in the 1871 trial of one Louis Chambrais (sp?), a trial so scandalous and shocking that the records were stipulated to be kept under wraps for the next fifty years . . . and yet, a mere twenty-five years later, everything is being revealed in Charles’s so-called novel!

Lenore Aubert as publisher’s daughter Marie, whom Charles discovers he loves.

Charles is having a meal at his favorite nosherie, the Café du Bois, with his generous patron Henri Borchard (Dumbrille) when he’s suddenly smitten by yet another of the migraine-style headaches he has intermittently suffered ever since that nasty fever attack he suffered while abroad, and decides to cut the dinner short and walk home through the fresh air of the Parisian streets. (Fresh air? Parisian streets? At the end of the 19th century? Hm.)

He doesn’t get home until morning, by which time a librarian in the Archives section of the Ministère de la Justice, Devereaux (McDonald), has been ’ideously murdered while Continue reading

River Patrol (1947)

An early Hammer!

UK / 43 minutes / bw / Knightsbridge Hammer, Exclusive Dir: Ben Hart Pr: Hal Wilson Scr: uncredited Cine: Brooks-Carrington Cast: John Blythe, Wally Patch, Stan Paskin, Lorna Dean, Wilton West, George Crowther, Fred Collins, Johnny Doherty, Douglas Leigh, Tony Merrett, George Lane, Dolly Gwynne, Audrey Hibbs, George Kane.

A short and very minor feature that marked the end of the decade-long hiatus in production, because of World War II, for Hammer, the studio later to become famous, of course, as the “House of Horror.” There are no horrors on offer in River Patrol, however, which is a fairly straightforward crime B-movie of the sort that would soon become more associated with the Merton Park studio. The river in question is London’s Thames and the patrols are mounted on it by an institution—I’m pretty sure a fictional one—called the Water Guard.

Robby (John Blythe) phones news of the skirmish in to HQ.

One of the Water Guard’s boats, bearing agent Robby Robinson (Blythe), tries to stop a suspicious-looking craft on the Thames, there’s an exchange of shots, and Robby’s companion Maxwell (uncredited) is killed. If this doesn’t seem implausible enough, rather than radio in the news of the encounter to the Water Guard HQ, Robby has to go ashore and find a phone box.

Robby’s boss (uncredited) reckons the rogue craft must belong to the gang that’s flooding London with Continue reading

o/t: a minor hiatus

The more observant of you may have noticed that there was no Saturday posting on Noirish, and that since last Wednesday I’ve been neither replying to comments here nor posting comments elsewhere.

This is because I’ve spent the past several days in hospital with pulmonary oedema (note fancy Brit spelling) as a consequence of congestive heart failure (itself thought to have been a consequence of a minor heart attack we didn’t notice, but that’s another story). This all sounds a lot grimmer than it actually is: the oedema seems essentially to have been treated and done, and congestive heart failure is regarded these days as eminently treatable . . . otherwise I’d not be home already, would I?

The next few days will perforce be quiet ones. I’ll mount a post on Wednesday, according to schedule, if I feel like up to it; otherwise know that I’ll be lazing in bed, reading good (and not so good) books and every now and then plaintively asking Pam to peel me a grape. Normal service will be resumed in the fairly near future.

And I’m home in time for our wedding anniversary — our 18th, so there. Alas, not in time for the fancy-schmancy (and remarkably heart-healthy!) anniversary noshup, which is being postponed until tomorrow.

Moontide (1942)

Ida Lupino and Jean Gabin (and Claude Rains and Thomas Mitchell!) in a strange piece of borderline noirishness!

US / 95 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang (uncredited) Pr: Mark Hellinger Scr: John O’Hara, Nunnally Johnson (uncredited) Story: Moon Tide (1940) by Willard Robertson Cine: Charles Clarke, Lucien Ballard (uncredited) Cast: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan, Helene Reynolds, Ralph Byrd, William Halligan, Victor Sen Yung, Chester Gan, Robin Raymond, Arthur Aylesworth, Arthur Hohl, John Kelly, Ralph Dunn, Tully Marshall, Vera Lewis, Tom Dugan.

On Amazon.co.uk a commenter called Now Zoltan (I assume that’s not his real name) has complained that I omitted this movie, which he regards as quintessential to the genre (“a cornerstone noir, one of my favourites”), from my A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir. He also complained about a typo as if it were an error of fact, which I thought was a bit unfair: 675,000 words of information-dense text? Of course you can expect a few typos—though hopefully not very many!

Anyway, I checked my entry for this movie in my personal catalogue and saw that I’d given it the NSH (noirish) rather than the NOIR classification. Since it stars Lupino, Gabin and Rains, three of my all-time favorite actors, and since Fritz Lang was involved, in the ordinary way I’d have bent over backward to include it in the book—i.e., to persuade myself it was sufficiently noir that it oughter go in.

An enigma on the back of a conundrum, and puzzling too.

It had been yonks since last I’d watched the movie, and to be honest I could remember little about it, so I decided to give it another whirl to see if I could work out why I’d decided to omit it. Here goes.

Jean Gabin as Bobo.

Bobo (Gabin) is a longshoreman, and ostensibly a good one, but he has a penchant for hard drinking. Tonight in the saloon called The Red Dot he’s well and truly hammered, to the dismay of his sidekick Tiny (Mitchell), who wants to Continue reading

Phantom of Chinatown (1940)

“My name is Wong. James Lee Wong.”

US / 62 minutes / bw / Monarch Dir: Phil Rosen Pr: Paul Malvern Scr: Joseph West Story: Ralph Bettinson Based on: characters created by Hugh Wiley in 12 stories published 1934–38 in Collier’s Magazine Cine: Fred Jackman Jr Cast: Keye Luke, Lotus Long, Grant Withers, Charles Miller, Huntley Gordon, Virginia Carpenter, John H. Dilson, Paul McVey, John Holland, Dick Terry, Robert Kellard, William Castello, Lee Tung Foo.

Not long after his return from a field trip to Mongolia, Dr. John Benton (Miller)—clearly labeled “Cyrus Benton” in a newspaper that we see—is giving a lecture at San Francisco’s Southern University about his expedition and the discovery he made in the Gobi Desert of the long-lost tomb of a powerful Ming emperor. He illustrates the lecture with the movie footage taken during the trip by photographer Charlie Frasier (Dilson), the very same guy as who’s now operating the projector for the lecture. Sitting in the front row are two further members of the expedition, Benton’s daughter Louise (Carpenter) and the pilot Tommy Dean (Kellard); the two are evidently sweet on each other. Helping the archaeologist is his secretary, Win Len (Long).

Tommy (Robert Kellard) and Louise (Virginia Carpenter), so much in love.

But one member of the expedition didn’t return, Benton explains to his audience. The backup pilot, Mason (Holland), was lost during a wild dust-storm and, although the party hunted for him, in the end they had to abandon the search.

Frasier (John H. Dilson) films everything.

Suddenly Benton grabs his throat and collapses. Soon the homicide cop Captain Sam Street (Withers) and his sidekick Detective Grady (McVey) are on the scene, but it looks as if Continue reading

Last Job, The (2014)

A reluctant hitman!

UK / 25 minutes / color / Landa Dir & Scr & Cine: Luke Tedder Pr: Luke Tedder, Ben Probert Cast: Ben Probert, Erick Hayden, Rachel Marquez, Josh Reeve, Josh Probert, Luke Tedder, Lewis Dowton, Elliot Ward, Phil Probert, Charley Probert.

Detective Adam Fowler (Ben Probert) is leading the team investigating maverick cancer researcher Dr. Redgrove (Hayden). Shortly before the cops manage to nail Hayden for the deaths of fourteen of his experimental subjects, Adam discovers his wife Jane (Marquez) is suffering from terminal cancer. There’s a standoff at Redgrove’s home as the rogue scientist holds a gun to his own head and insists on a private conversation with Adam.

It’s not that maverick researcher Redgrove (Erick Hayden) is a nutcase or anything, honest.

Once they’re alone he makes Adam an offer:

Redgrove: “Here is your scenario. I will allow you to arrest me, I will even plead guilty to my crimes, and then I will save your wife.”
Adam: “In return for what?”
Redgrove: “You.”

The deal is that, as price for the curing of Jane, Adam must fake his own death and then function as Redgrove’s hitman, knocking off anyone who’s in a position to stop the legalization of Redgrove’s research or who simply knows too much about what’s going on.

Jane (Rachel Marquez) at the grave of her supposedly dead husband.

Two years pass during which Adam carries out hit after hit. Jane, believing herself a widow, remarries, this time to a man described by Redgrove as Continue reading

Dick Barton Strikes Back (1949)

The final Barton!

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Hammer, Ted Kavanagh Associated, Exclusive Dir: Godfrey Grayson Assoc Pr: Anthony Hinds, Mae Murray Scr: Elizabeth Baron, Ambrose Grayson Story: Ambrose Grayson, based on characters created for Dick Barton—Special Agent (1946–51 BBC radio series), devised by Norman Collins and scripted by Edward J. Mason and Geoffrey Webb Cine: Cedric Williams Cast: Don Stannard, Bruce Walker, Sebastian Cabot, James Raglan, Jean Lodge, Morris Sweden, John Harvey, Humphrey Kent, Sidney Vivian, Tony Morelli, George Crawford, Laurie Taylor, Schulman.

This was the third to be made in what Hammer planned to be a long-lasting series of movies featuring the popular BBC radio character Dick Barton, begun with Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948). It proved to be the last, however, because, driving home after the “It’s a Wrap” party, series star Don Stannard crashed his car and was killed instantly. His co-star in Dick Barton Strikes Back, Sebastian Cabot, traveling with him, escaped with only minor injuries. Presumably in an effort to cash in on public interest in the tragedy, Exclusive, the series’ distributor, hurried the release so that this movie came out before its predecessor, Dick Barton at Bay (1950). The next movie in the series was apparently intended to be Dick Barton in Darkest Africa—to judge by the title, a radical departure from the series template.

I mentioned in connection with Dick Barton at Bay that the improvement of its production standards over those of its predecessor was evident within moments of the end of the opening credits. The improvement in standards of the third entry over Dick Barton at Bay is obvious even during the opening credits! Farewell to the strictly functional, rather amateurish credits of the previous two movies; hello to a more sophisticated presentation, complete with cameos of the three principals. A new production team and a new cinematographer—one who was far readier to use noirish techniques of shadow and angle—make a huge difference, but so does the fact that a bit more thought seems to have gone into the story, which, while it follows the basic overall template established by the two earlier movies and is as full of wild-and-woolly plot developments as ever, has an actual dramatic structure, leading up to an extended finale that is cleverly put together and genuinely edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Creston (Morris Sweden, left) tersely briefs Dick (Don Stannard, center) and Snowey (Bruce Walker) at the airport.

Dick (Stannard) and Snowey (Walker, replacing and much improving upon George Ford) go to St. Albans airport, about twenty miles out of London, to meet Special Agent Robert Creston (Sweden), who’s just arrived on the plane from Prague. He’s reluctant to be seen with them, muttering only that “If my guess is correct, the atomic bomb is child’s play compared to this” and arranging to meet them later at Continue reading